DeJesus close but 'still a work in progress'

MESA, Ariz. -- While David DeJesus refuses to lose sleep over his paltry spring numbers that doesn’t mean he considers them completely insignificant.

DeJesus, the Cubs' projected leadoff man and right fielder, entered play Wednesday batting just .167 with a .286 on-base percentage, not what a team is looking for from their main table setter.

“The ultimate goal is to be ready for Opening Day,” DeJesus said. “My swing, I’ve had my good games, I’ve had my bad games. It’s still a work in progress. You’re never really feeling good until that Opening Day.”

It’s a least a good sign that DeJesus is putting in the work. He has gone over things on a consistent basis with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo and has even had discussions with manager Dale Sveum, who came to the Cubs after a hitting-coach gig at Milwaukee.

“He’s great; he’s the ultimate professional, too,” Sveum said. “The one thing he has done is played a heck of a right field. That’s nice, too. He’s a professional hitter. Things aren’t all that far off. More than anything it looks like he’s being a little defensive at the plate.”

His return to the leadoff role hasn’t gone as smoothly as he probably hoped. Among other things, he’s had a tendency to fall behind as he tries to shoulder one of the traditional leadoff man responsibilities of working deep into counts.

“Obviously his numbers aren’t eye-popping by any means,” Sveum said. “I think it’s just a case of a veteran guy maybe coming into a camp doing too much, being a little passive aggressive maybe instead of just knowing you’ve had a lot of success before and just go out and do it.”

Nobody ever won the MVP or a batting title with how they performed in spring training, of course. But with a week of games remaining, will he even be ready to perform to his career norms when April 5 arrives?

“These games are games to get you ready for Opening Day,” DeJesus said. “You make your money during the season. Right now I’m working hard, putting my time in the cage and making sure my body’s ready to play every day.”

It would have made his transition to a new club easier had he been able to show his new teammates what he can do, but he’s still being looked upon as a veteran leader and has earned respect with his work ethic and easy-going nature.

“I know that preparing your body for the season is more than having a great spring training,” he said. “It’s a totally different game in spring training than the regular season when the games start mattering. I’m not too worried about it. I just have to keep working hard and that’s the game.”